The power of a bucket list

Alan Spector is the author of five books and is working on books six and seven. His latest is “Body Not Recovered: A Vietnam War/Protest Movement Novel.” Spector also writes the blog “Retirement According to … Alan Spector.”

Ann and I recently checked off a big bucket list item.  Several years ago, we realized that we had visited 48 states together.  We were only missing Hawaii and Idaho and put both on our bucket list.  We immediately made plans to visit the islands and started doing the research for an Idaho trip.  On June 16, we entered Idaho on the way to visiting Craters of the Moon National Monument—50th state—check!

Although there is a lot of power in creating and living your bucket list items, some people are put off by the idea.  They think of a bucket list the way it was portrayed in the movie by the same name. In the movie and in many people’s minds, the concept is only for those who don’t have long to live, know it, and want to accomplish some things they had previously put off.

I prefer to think about a bucket list differently.  What are those things you would love to do, be excited about looking forward to and planning for, to do with friends, to reminisce about, and to consider whether to do again?  These are your bucket list items. 

They may be big things, like traveling to Australia and New Zealand, writing a book, or running a marathon. But they may also be smaller things, like going to that new restaurant you’ve heard about, visiting every county park in your area, seeing a live performance of Porgy and Bess, or teaching your granddaughter how to play gin.  

Take a few moments with a blank sheet of paper or a word processing file.  Without thinking about what it would take to make them happen, just begin listing all of the things you want to do.  Include the big things and the smaller things.  You’ll likely find that just creating the list will be energizing.  

New Mt. Sinai Cemetery advertisement

And why create a list versus keeping the ideas in your head?  If you write it down, you’re more likely, some say as much as five times more so, to actually do the things on your list.   

Once you have your list written down, you can add items as you learn about them.  Ask your friends what’s on their list in order to add new ideas to yours.  You might even find there are items you’ll choose to do with those friends.  

There is great power in a bucket list.  This is true for everyone, but perhaps especially for retirees and those planning for retirement.  Add the bucket list to your retirement life planning tool kit.